The Emigration from Iceland to North America
The Weekly Newsletter - Nr 19
 
Sept 27, 2003  Keeping in touch every single week! (almost)
 In your ancestors footsteps
The Icelandic summer has already left us and I think there is no Indian summer to expect up here. Well, officially the winter arrives 25 Oct. - the first day of winter according to the calendar - but the winter has already reminded us of it's existence by sending some local snowstorms which fortunately left as quickly as they came. But there are more to come.
Anyway, the summer was very good and to make it even brighter we have had a lot of visitors from "Vesturheimur"
Fagridalur, abandoned farm
in Vopnafj÷r­ur
Photo: Mats Wibe Lund
Click for a larger picture
i.e. North America, and most likely there are still more coming this year to visit their ancestors' "good old" country.
I know that many bring with them a list of what they want to do and see and at the top of that list is: "I want to visit the place where my grandparents (or great grandparents) lived." Well, for many, to do that can be both expensive and time consuming. In some cases granddad came from the east of Iceland and granny came from the west. But many, and you among them, are lucky, you only have to visit one place since your folk, emigrated not single but as a family. So off you go and finally you are on the spot where they lived. But in many cases the old farm isn't there any more and you only see vaguely some remnants, fallen walls of stones and turf. The Icelandic summerday, usually so bright :-) has turned to gray - why now! - it's raining, the clouds are covering the nearby mountains and you feel just about as miserable as your ancestors were when they decided to leave this place with that hope in heart that YOUR life would be the best ever or at least as good as possible.
Anyway, you want to take a picture. How you wish the sun were shining and how you wish you could see the surroundings, but - ack, you have to live with your best picture, even so gray. Well, do you? On the web, you should point your browser to www.mats.is and browse through what is just a tiny bit of Mats Wibe Lund's huge picture gallery of places all over in Iceland. If you really want a fine picture of the spot where your roots lies, you should contact him to see if he can't come up with what you wanted on your own picture.
Oh no, there is nothing in it for me

 A book to be recommended
A few years ago the book Letters to Icelanders by Betty Jane Wylie was published in Canada. The author is of Icelandic descent and well known in the Icelandic community throughout North America. Her grandparents emigrated in 1887, ".... left the country separately, my grandfather, Hans Pjetur Tergesen, from the north, near Akureyri, at age 24, and my grandmother, Sigri­ur Pßlsdˇttir,
left Hofi in Hjaltadal, at 17. They met on the ship taking them to Canada, married in Winnipeg and moved first to Churchbridge, Saskatchewan, where they did not stay, then to Gimli on the shores of Lake Winnipeg to raise their family in the largest Icelandic settlement in North America. In Icelandic, gimli means "home of the gods," or, some say, "paradise." The Icelanders have always had a wry sense of humour" quoting the author.
To me the book is a beautiful ode to her icelandic heritage. I do not intend to even try to give a critic on that book. I'm not skilled enough to do so, I just urge you to get it and read it of course. I'll just quote Senator Janis Johnson: "Betty Jane reaches out in the most intimate way and allows us to become part of her Icelandic clan. She tantalizes with mythology, lore, and the remembered aroma of recipes we all savoured as children. Through her letters, poetry, and story one feels a sense of belonging ..." I know you'll enjoy the book.

 My own Domain
Well, finally I got myself a Domain. My own Domain. The name? You wouldn't gess so I'll tell you. It's www.halfdan.is. So now it should be easy for you to remember where to find my pages - and to remember my name, that's why I'm doing this - just type in your browser's address line: www.halfdan.is - only halfdan.is makes is also, and voila! (as they say in France - I'm told) you are there.
One thing more: for many years my email address has been: halfdan@itn.is - please do not use that address any more. If you have very recently sent me a message at that address, please resend it to this address or to my brand new address which you find here.

 Irregularity once again
Sorry folks, once again there has been a delay in the publication. Since September 7th. This time I had to "inspect" the Hospital, nothing serious though, but it's obvious that I can't rely on my editorial staff. Nothing is done when I'm away.
What has to be done must be done by the Editor himself.

Settler of the Week

Emigrants from Fagridalur in Vopnafj÷r­ur

According to the Emigration register (Vesturfaraskrß) the farmer Einar Mark˙sson emigrated in 1887 with his wife Ingibj÷rg Ígmundsdˇttir and two children, SˇlfrÝ­ur and Bj÷rgˇlfur from the farm Fagridalur in Vopnafj÷r­ur. The following year, Einar's brother, Gu­mundur emigrated at the age of 28. He married later Ingibj÷rg SigrÝ­ur Finnsdˇttir from Dalasřsla. They had seven children. Coming back to Einar and Ingibj÷rg, they had in Canada at least one more children, the daughter ┴slaug, who married Svanberg Sigf˙sson and had a lot of descendants.
Further information (pictures please!) regarding the families of Einar and Gu­mundur will be very much appreciated.

In 1903 more families emigrated from Fagridalur, those will be mentioned in my next Newsletter.
Hßlfdan

The Distribution

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Hßlfdan Helgason
ReykjavÝk, Iceland.

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